Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have bailed on every single weekly "TGIF" town hall meeting in 2019, according to BuzzFeed News - the pair's longest attendance lapse in company history.
The town halls give Google employees a chance to ask questions of leadership with no limitations, and are a key element of Google’s transparent workplace culture. They regularly feature an introduction from leadership, a presentation from a team, followed by time for employee questions. For years, Page and Brin have attended, either individually or together, and faced questions from Google’s rank and file about the company and its direction. Asked when their last TGIF appearance was, Google declined to comment. -BuzzFeed News
"I don’t think they’ve ever missed more than a few consecutively, and definitely not both," said one Google employee. "It’s a double act! One of them was consistently always there at minimum."
Their absence raises questions during a contentious period in company history in which employees have been revolting against various 'evil' programs - such as the company's Orwellian "Dragonfly" project for the Chinese government which they apparently lied about scrapping amid an employee uprising against the program. More recently, Google has banned VPN ads targeted at Chinese users who wish to circumvent Beijing's restrictive internet.
Google execs also came under fire after the New York Times reported that the company paid a $90 million exit package to Android mobile software creator, Andy Rubin - who was accused of forcing a woman to give him a blowjob in 2013 - despite sacking 48 people over sexual harassment claims over the preceding 24 months.
Google is navigating multiple delicate situations internally. The company is still negotiating the fallout of an employee walkout last fall that drew approximately 20,000 Google employees away from their desks in protest of its leadership’s handling of internal sexual harassment. It also faced internal blowback over its work on a censored search engine for China, a drone-targeting program called “Project Maven,” and accusations that is has stifled conservative voices within the company. -BuzzFeed News
While their withdrawal from the TGIF meetings isn't entirely unexpected - as the two cofounders planned to step back at some point after giving CEO Sundar Pichai the reins - Brinn and Page's ongoing absence was completely unannounced.
"It is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google," wrote Page in a 2015 post after Google parent Alphabet was formed. "I feel very fortunate to have someone as talented as he is to run the slightly slimmed down Google and this frees up time for me to continue to scale our aspirations."
That said, the pair hasn't skipped this many meetings since 1999, according to the report.
But this is their most protracted absence from the meetings at least since 1999, multiple current and former Google employees told BuzzFeed News. Both continued to appear at TGIF meetings following the corporate restructuring in October 2015 through most of 2018. Their unexplained failure to appear in 2019 has puzzled some within the company, who told BuzzFeed News they believe Page and Brin should continue to stand up and be regularly accountable to their employees, especially at this critical moment. -BuzzFeed News
In addition to Brin and Page bailing on the TGIF meetings - recordings are no longer internally available to Google employees after a few weeks, whereas they could previously access several years worth of meetings.